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Benjamín Romano: "I Focus on Improving the Building"

09:30 - 23 February, 2018
Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand
Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand

Visiting Mexico City several times in recent months enabled me to get to know a number of leading architects there. In the process, I was in turn directed to other architects that were new to me, whom I then discovered were, in fact, the leading and most revered architects in the country according to the local architectural community. I am particularly referring to Alberto Kalach and Mauricio Rocha, whose interviews were published in this column last year, and Benjamín Romano, whose name came up when I asked a number of architects to cite their favorite building from recent years in Mexico City. Along with the absolute favorite, Vasconcelos Library by Kalach, another structure stood out: Torre Reforma, a 57-story office tower, the tallest building in the city. The following conversation with Romano, its architect, took place inside this unusually powerful and inventive structure.

Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand Torre Reforma. Image © Alfonso Merchand + 33

What Is Architecture Without Clients And Money? ArchDaily Editors Talk

08:00 - 23 February, 2018
What Is Architecture Without Clients And Money? ArchDaily Editors Talk, Would BIG and Thomas Heatherwick have designed a huge, adaptable tensile structure for any client other than Google?. Image © Google
Would BIG and Thomas Heatherwick have designed a huge, adaptable tensile structure for any client other than Google?. Image © Google

In January, we covered an interview with Bjarke Ingels where he spoke of the role that clients play in architecture. In the article, Bjarlke Ingels mentioned that "In the world of architecture there are many more things beyond an architect's control than are under his command." The post started a debate among our readers as well as our editors at ArchDaily. Many readers bemoaned the demise of architecture at the hands of clients with big pockets. Some of us talked about how IT giants not only control our digital world, they are now also encroaching upon our urban environments. Several readers blamed big clients for creating starchitects who build grand buildings and, as they allege, cause an "infantalisation" of architecture in the process.

Here at ArchDaily, our editors got to thinking: Can architecture exist without a client? Or is it just a service, a capitalistic exchange? And really, are clients such a bad thing for the field?

We talk to some of our editors to get their perspective.

SOM's Iconic 270 Park Avenue At Risk of Becoming the Tallest Building Ever to Be Demolished

12:30 - 22 February, 2018
© Flickr <a href='http://https://www.flickr.com/photos/16801915@N06/8191438808/'>user Reading Tom</a>. Licensed under CC BY 2.0t
© Flickr user Reading Tom. Licensed under CC BY 2.0t

Just months after plans were announced for a major transformation of Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building at 550 Madison, another iconic midtown Manhattan skyscraper is at risk – and this time, it would mean the demolition of the entire building.

Designed by Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft of SOM and completed in 1961, 270 Park Avenue (formerly known as the Union Carbide Building) is considered a key example of the International Style in New York City that extended and even improved upon the precedent set by Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.

But after new zoning legislation for the neighborhood was passed last year, the building’s current owner, JPMorgan Chase, has announced plans to raze the 707-foot-tall building in favor of a new, hi-tech supertall replacement. If plans go through, it would be the world’s largest and tallest building ever to be intentionally demolished.

Here's What the Alphabet Looks Like When Converted into Baroque Palace Designs

09:30 - 22 February, 2018

Johann David Steingruber was a German architect and designer with over 100 buildings to his name, including many churches, town halls, school buildings and even breweries. However, perhaps what he is best known for today are the intricate illustrations of his 1773 Architectural Alphabet, in which he converted the alphabet into plans for a series of eccentric baroque palaces.

Done more as a "labor of love" rather than for any practical reason, Steingruber's book is a compilation of playful and intricate spatial relationships, with each letter providing its own unique set of challenges. Even though the letters naturally offer more complex shapes than we would ordinarily use for plans, the spaces somehow make sense. The baroque style of oval antichambers, domes, and vaults is evident not only in the plans but also in the elevations.

How Microsoft Is Making Data-Driven Decisions to Craft its New Workplace Design Language

09:30 - 21 February, 2018
How Microsoft Is Making Data-Driven Decisions to Craft its New Workplace Design Language, The “Design Language for Place” guidelines emphasize craftsmanship, authentic materials, and locally inspired design details. In Buildings 31 and 32 on Microsoft’s Washington Redmond campus, this means evoking the outdoor culture and woodsy aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest. Image © Aaron Locke
The “Design Language for Place” guidelines emphasize craftsmanship, authentic materials, and locally inspired design details. In Buildings 31 and 32 on Microsoft’s Washington Redmond campus, this means evoking the outdoor culture and woodsy aesthetic of the Pacific Northwest. Image © Aaron Locke

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "The Big Ideas Behind Microsoft’s New 'Design Language.'"

Microsoft is undertaking an ambitious overhaul of its 800 offices around the world and uncovering great insights about the intersections of technology and workplace design in the process. The technology giant’s global director of workplace strategies, Riku Pentikäinen, speaks to Metropolis’s Avinash Rajagopal about the company’s new workplaces, collaborating with designers and furniture manufacturers, and how his team takes a data-driven approach to office design.

The design of Microsoft’s 106,000-square-foot London office (pictured) and the flagship Milan office was informed by a new tool called space-utilization technology. Using data points collected over 180 days through Wi-Fi, Microsoft can now analyze how people use its office spaces. Image © Hufton + Crow In Microsoft's Milan office, designed by DEGW in Herzog & de Meuron’s Feltrinelli building, space-utilization technology was applied to optimize the square footage. Image Courtesy of Microsoft Nowhere is this better exemplified than in two conference rooms tucked among the fir trees. The log-cabin aesthetic notwithstanding, both are fully equipped with Wi-Fi. Image Courtesy of Microsoft The landscape design was optimized to invite people to step outside, while a series of decks, plazas, and play areas—fitted out with colorful furniture from Loll Designs and Blu Dot, among others—allows them to socialize or work together with equal ease. Image © Aaron Locke + 11

OMA's Colorful Base, Tower and Ring Scheme Wins Competition for New Courthouse in Lille, France

12:00 - 20 February, 2018

Update 2/20/18: We've added a gallery of additional images to the post!

OMA has been selected as the winner of an international competition for the design of the new Palais de justice (courthouse) in Lille, France. Located on the outskirts of the city near the historic Vauban fortifications, the new courthouse will house the high court and district court of Lille within a colorful, expressive volume.

View from the parvis. Image © OMA / ArtefactoryLab View of the Salle Des Pas Perdus. Image © OMA / ArtefactoryLab © OMA Site plan. Image © OMA + 12

Why African Vernacular Architecture Is Overdue for a Renaissance

09:30 - 20 February, 2018
The Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali. Image © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Djenne_great_mud_mosque.jpg'>Wikimedia user Ruud Zwart</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/nl/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 2.5 NL</a>
The Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali. Image © Wikimedia user Ruud Zwart licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 NL

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Making a Case for the Renaissance of Traditional African Architecture."

Last September, Nigerian Afrobeat musician Wizkid played to a sold-out house at the Royal Albert Hall in London, joining a growing list of illustrious African musicians, such as Selif Kaita, Youssou Ndour, Miriam Makeba and others, that have performed at that prestigious venue. This event affirmed the unfolding cultural renaissance across the continent, but it also signified the rising global influence of African music, movies, fashion, cuisine and the arts.

Sadly, traditional African architecture, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, has not profited from this renaissance and has instead steadily lost its appeal across the continent. In spite of its towering influence in the pre-colonial era, it has largely failed to develop beyond the crude earthen walls and thatch roof architecture; for this reason it has remained unattractive to homeowners who often associate it with poverty. Consequently, the neglect of indigenous architecture has resulted in the dearth of skilled craftsmen knowledgeable in the art of traditional building, a reality that has further dimmed hopes for a revival of this architectural style.

Calatrava and Gehry Rumored to Be Designing Skyscrapers for New York’s Hudson Yards Megaproject

12:00 - 19 February, 2018
A photograph of Hudson Yards from October 2017. Image Courtesy of Related-Oxford
A photograph of Hudson Yards from October 2017. Image Courtesy of Related-Oxford

New York City’s most buzzy megaproject, Hudson Yards, may have just added two more huge names to their list of notable architects, if a new report from the Wall Street Journal is to be trusted.

According to a source the WSJ describes as “a person familiar with the matter,” Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry will both design new residential towers for the second phase of the 28-acre complex, located at the north end of the High Line in west Manhattan.

How Slovakia's Soviet Ties Led to a Unique Form of Sci-Fi Architecture

09:30 - 19 February, 2018
Memorial and Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, by architect Dušan Kuzma, 1963-1970. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego
Memorial and Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, by architect Dušan Kuzma, 1963-1970. Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego

The history of Slovakia is riddled with political unrest and unwanted occupation, with the Slovak people having repeatedly been denied a voice throughout history. In the years following World War I, Slovakia was forced into the common state of Czechoslovakia; the territory was dismembered by the Nazi regime in 1938 and occupied by the Nazis for most of the Second World War, before being eventually liberated by Soviet and Romanian forces in 1945. Over the next four decades of communist rule—first by communists within Czechoslovakia itself and then later by the Soviet Union—the architecture of Slovakia came to develop into a unique form of sci-fi postmodernism that celebrated the shift in industrial influence at the time.

Photographer Stefano Perego has documented the Slovakian architecture from the 1960s–80s and has shared some of his photos with ArchDaily.

Slovak Radio Building, by architects Štefan Svetko, Štefan Ďurkovič and Barnabáš Kissling, 1967-1983. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego "UFO", by sculptor Juraj Hovorka, 1979. Restored in 2014. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, by A. Tesár, J. Lacko and I. Slameň, 1967-1972. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego Fountain of Union, by sculptors Juraj Hovorka, Tibor Bártfay, Karol Lacko and architects Virgil Droppa and Juraj Hlavica, 1979-1980. Bratislava, Slovakia. Image © Stefano Perego + 18

Fumihiko Maki On The Importance of Conscious Decision-Making in Design

09:31 - 18 February, 2018

Begin to understand the inner workings of Fumihiko Maki's architectural mind in PLANE—SITE’s latest short film from their Time-Space-Existence series. Each film focuses on the different principles which drive the practice of famous architects. Maki is known for being experimental with materials and fusing east and west culture. 

4 World Trade Center. Image © Tectonic MIT Media Lab. Image © Anton Grassl Spiral. Image © Toshiharu Kitajima Spiral. Image © Toshiharu Kitajima + 17

A Trip Inside Álvaro Siza Vieira's University of Alicante Rectory Building in Spain

09:30 - 17 February, 2018

In 1998, Pritzker Prize-winning Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira completed the University of Alicante Rectory Building in Alicante, Spain. Twenty years later, ArcDog captures the building in their latest film. The Rectory Building fights the harsh Spanish heat with its fortress-like form. Two carefully proportioned courtyards become the focus of this design and, consequently, of the film.

Beyond the Viral Images: Inside MVRDV’s Tianjin Binhai Library with #donotsettle

09:30 - 16 February, 2018

#donotsettle is an online video project created by Wahyu Pratomo and Kris Provoost about architecture and the way it is perceived by users. They visit buildings, make videos and write extended stories in their exclusive column on ArchDaily, #donotsettle Extra.

Yes, that library. The images of the Tianjin Binhai Library have appeared everywhere, from architecture blogs and news broadcasts to going completely viral on social media. We had to go see it and show you what the space is really like. So, we teamed up with MVRDV who sent us to Tianjin to see it up close.

Tianjin Binhai Library, designed by MVRDV, is part of the bigger master plan for the new Binhai Cultural Center (masterplanned by Germany’s GMP). The building has seen phenomenal success on social media reaching all corners of the world. Since the opening, the number of visitors has been constantly increasing, with many of them coming from way beyond Tianjin. It is a library as destination point, redefined.

© Ossip van Duivenbode © Ossip van Duivenbode © Ossip van Duivenbode © Ossip van Duivenbode + 8

Watch the Construction of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Tower in This Full PBS Documentary

12:00 - 15 February, 2018
Watch the Construction of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Tower in This Full PBS Documentary

As one of Zaha Hadid's final projects, One Thousand Museum Tower in Miami, approaches completion (having topped out just last month), a new documentary on its construction has been released by PBS. 

The building was the subject of the season premier of "Impossible Builds," which profiles "the creation of some of the world’s most ambitious, complex and technologically advanced construction projects." 

Described by the show as "one of the most complex skyscrapers ever to make it off the drawing board," the 62-story tower features a unique glass fiber reinforced concrete exoskeleton – a system never before seen at this scale.

The show is now available to watch in its entirety online. Check it out below!

This Medieval Walled Town with a Storied History Shows How Traditional Urbanism Can Support High Density

09:30 - 15 February, 2018
© Sabine de Villeroy
© Sabine de Villeroy

The protective fortress, winding cobblestone streets, and medieval urban layout are all characteristics of many coastal European towns. But when exploring the French town of Saint-Malo, it is difficult to believe that this is hardly the original city. What separates Saint-Malo from many other European towns located by the sea—aside from its striking location jutting out from the coastline—is the complex history of how it was heavily destroyed in World War II, but rebuilt to its original aesthetic.

© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/ferrariguy90/8467381701'>Flickr user Trevor Huxham</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-NC-ND 2.0</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/15206970485'>Flickr user Dennis Jarvis</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> Unknown, <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint-Malo_après_la_bataille_de_1944.jpg">Saint-Malo après la bataille de 1944</a>, marked as public domain, more details on <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:PD-old">Wikimedia Commons</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/lutherankorean/2652730156'>Flickr user Pom Angers</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> + 7

World's Tallest Timber Tower to Be Built in Norway—Thanks to New Rules on What Defines a "Timber Building"

06:00 - 15 February, 2018
Courtesy of Moelven Limtre
Courtesy of Moelven Limtre

Over the last few months, we have seen a surge in large timber structures being constructed across the globe claiming to be the biggest, the tallest, or the first of their kind—for example, plans for the Dutch Mountains, the world’s largest wooden building, have recently been revealed. Contractors Moelven Limtre are one of the key drivers of this change as the perception of timber as a load-bearing material becomes more common. Their director Rune Abrahamsen is responsible for one of the current claimants of the world record for the tallest timber building, “Treet” in Bergen, at 51 meters tall. However, the contractor’s latest project Mjøstårnet is set to reach an even taller height of 81 meters.

Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre Courtesy of Moelven Limtre + 11

Madison Square Garden Unveils Plans for Spherical Event Venues in London and Las Vegas

16:20 - 14 February, 2018
Madison Square Garden Unveils Plans for Spherical Event Venues in London and Las Vegas, © Madison Square Garden Company
© Madison Square Garden Company

The Madison Square Garden Company, the eponymous group behind New York City’s iconic concert and events venue, has revealed plans to building two new arenas on opposite sides of the world that will both be shaped like giant spheres.

To be branded as MSG Spheres, the venues will be located in Las Vegas and in London, and will be designed by Populous, the Kansas City-based firm responsible for a large number of stadia and arenas across the globe.

© Madison Square Garden Company © Madison Square Garden Company © Madison Square Garden Company © Madison Square Garden Company + 5

Is Architecture Too Interdisciplinary? Or, Why Architects Need to Start Talking About Architecture

09:30 - 14 February, 2018
The Pantheon in Rome. Image © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/14984463972'>Flickr user Michael Vadon</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
The Pantheon in Rome. Image © Flickr user Michael Vadon licensed under CC BY 2.0

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Buildings."

One of the last programs I attended as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial was a panel titled “Making/Writing/Teaching Contested Histories” at the Chicago Cultural Center. The panel, organized by the Feminist Art and Architecture Collaborative (FAAC), aimed to “foreground issues of class, race, and gender, interrogating how they partake in the production of the built environment.”

The panelists, all academics in fields related to the built environment, were asked to bring in an object central to their practice or their teaching method. The objects on display were a painting, a pier, a refugee camp, and a living room.

Three or four decades ago, this array would’ve scandalized an audience of architects and architectural scholars, who might’ve been expecting, I don’t know, a photo of the Pantheon, or a plan of it, or even a piece of wood or a brick. Maybe even the choice of a piece of furniture would’ve induced some surprised gasps or confused looks.

Sir David Adjaye Selects Mariam Kamara As His Protégée For Rolex Arts Initiative

12:50 - 13 February, 2018
Sir David Adjaye Selects Mariam Kamara As His Protégée For Rolex Arts Initiative, Sir David Adjaye with his protégée Mariam Kamara. Image Courtesy of Rolex Arts Initiative
Sir David Adjaye with his protégée Mariam Kamara. Image Courtesy of Rolex Arts Initiative

Rolex has announced four new mentors and protégés for the prestigious Rolex Arts Initiative. In the architecture category, Sir David Adjaye was selected as mentor and Niger-based architect Mariam Kamara will be his protégée in 2018-2019.